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Institution is a hub of innovation and innovation never comes out of degrees. Along with book learning, institution must provide learning environment and learning space too. Worldwide institutions are merging business and education to serve the students in a better way and improve their economy. 58% of total population of Pakistan is at the age of going to school or college, total population under this category is more than 60 million and 183 universities are educating 6 million students but we have not created such alliance to forge a new direction. Merge of education and business can create a win-win situation. A recent collaboration agreement between GlaxoSmithKline and the University of Cambridge puts academic scientists into the laboratories on the GSK campus in Stevenage which shows the potential of increased collaboration of UK industry. Strong linkage between academia and industry can deliver innovative commercial products. Professor Achim Kampker of Aachen University leads a consortium of over 50 companies that have designed and built a cheap, modular electric vehicle called the Street Scooter. It goes into full production in 2013 and DHL have pre-ordered 3500. That is commercial success facilitated by academic skills and inputs. Few other examples are; Raven the surgical robot, a result of a collaboration between the Universities of Washington and California Santa Cruz, robot manufacturers and computer games companies.

The current population of Pakistan is 200,942,676. According to National Human Development Report (NHDR), Pakistan has largest population of young people ever recorded in its history. Currently it is one of the youngest countries in the world and the second youngest in the South Asian region after Afghanistan. In order to utilize the youth bulge properly Pakistan needs to create 4.5 million new jobs. Linkage between institutes and industries can serve the purpose.

Technology is nothing. What’s important is that you have a faith in people that they are basically good and smart and if you give them tools, they will do wonderful things with them”. Steve Jobs

This will not only need lesser budget but also enhance the economic stability of the country. The Higher Education Funding Council for England’s Higher Education – Business and Community Interaction survey reveals that such partnerships were worth £3.9 billion last year, up from £3.6 billion in 2012-13. There are several institutions worldwide that are getting advantage from business-academia alliances. Such as U.S. National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institution. Here comes a goal oriented partnership that brings some small companies, universities and even a community college closer to the industry. Another example is Austria’s Christian Doppler Laboratory and associated entities. Its 50% of partnership is financed by commercial partners.

We lack commercial research and development opportunities in the universities that are essential for production of innovative and commercial products which would be based on universities’ inventions. Japan aims to be the world’s most innovation friendly country by 2030. Their focus is to forge maximum education and industry collaboration and the government has set a target of at least 4% of GDP for total R&D investment by the public and private sectors.

For Pakistan, unemployment has always been on a higher side. The fact remains harsh and stagnant for the country, despite many interventions of workforce development. These days we look at CPEC as the upcoming “command post” to solve most of the socioeconomic issues faced by the country. But the opportunities will mostly be surfaced for the technically skilled and capacitated human resource. We need to start filling the skill gaps which could hamper the Pakistani youth from making most of this endeavor of national development. A closer alliance between the educational and training institutes, public sector and the industry can help bridge the gap and develop the workforce we need to make Pakistan a 21st century knowledge-based economy.

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Science & Technology Parks (STPs) are a type of industrial vicinage that features the knot of companies, academia, research and business incubation facilities to promote advanced commercial research in key economic areas.
According to UK Science Park Association, “STP provides an environment where larger and international businesses can develop specific and close interactions with a particular center of knowledge creation for their mutual benefit”. The idea to set-up these science and knowledge hubs spurred with the development of Silicon Valley USA in early 1950s. The notion earned popularity as a composite mechanism to accelerate economic growth to the point that today over 400 STPs are present worldwide. USA is at top of the list with 150, japan with 111 and china around 100.
In a triple helix model of configuration, science and knowledge parks are supported by the governments to facilitate collaboration between academia and businesses to support applied research. This collaboration leads to product innovation, increased exports and income generation opportunities. STPs also represents an attempt to encourage regional economic development through the use of regional creativity and innovation. These knowledge hubs foster entrepreneurship, local industry competitiveness and also adds into the innovation and research profile of a specific economy.
Over a decade ago, China launched a large-scale program to develop science parks with onsite business incubators. The project was aimed to rebuild the economic architecture to spawn institutions that would greatly improve nation’s innovation system. As an inspiration from the developed world, STPs have made way into the developing countries as strategic interventions for economic development.
Pakistan with its promising young population profile, a thriving industrial sector and an ever growing trend of entrepreneurship among its youth is considered to be at a highpoint of hosting knowledge, science and technology hubs. The country is ready to explore the potentials of stepping forward into the global knowledge based economy. Lahore Knowledge Park is being established as a very step towards this economic paradigm shift. Lahore Knowledge Park (LKP) will promote high-end commercial research in key economic clusters; Manufacturing and Engineering Sciences, Biotechnology and Life Sciences, ICT, Creative Media and Arts. LKP will enable a national ecosystem of innovation through creating synergies between the academia and industry through providing platform for business incubation and acquisition of highly skilled workforce. The park is also going to be the hotbed of international standard opportunities of higher education for the country’s youth.
For developing economies like Pakistan, knowledge and science parks can prove to be one of the best means to promote innovation networking and professional engagement between the institutions of higher education, research and the industry. In order to fully exteriorize the potentials of these knowledge hubs, efforts should be made to setup a pragmatic as well as ideologically sound establishing, refining and enlarging the concept of the Knowledge Park. This framework would be based on the principles of cross-fertilization of ideas, gender inclusion and sharing of infrastructure and resources for the good of all as well as the renewal of higher education institutions to accelerate national development.

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